June 28, Sunday
8:00 AM and already it was very warm. My phone buzzed as I was watching my Sunday morning program. It was Carol inviting me to go ride before the heat really kicked in.
We settled on Eagle Creek, where we'd had our first ride with Commotion and all that angst with the water crossing. We wriggled the trailer into a parking slot amidst the many other cars parked at the trailhead at about 8:30. Hikers and dogs were everywhere. We saddled up and headed on out. Commotion was a little bit on his toes when we began up the canyon but he soon relaxed and fell in beside Badger. He'd had about a week off and was happy to be out there, I could feel it. Traveling up the arroyo, we kept our watch out for sheep, since they were grazing all over the Big Wood Valley and we hadn't called to check the sheep report. A band of a thousand or more sheep can really unnerve a horse.
Suddenly Commotion jumped to the right, looking at a log and bushes to his left. I couldn't see anything worth jumping about, but apparently he smelled something in there that he didn't like. We looked at it for a moment, to assure him that there was nothing there. I petted his neck and rump and then we moved on. Ahead was the big water crossing that we'd struggled with before. Walking toward it, he looked, hesitated and suddenly realized that Badger (Carol's horse) was going to cross it. He braved up and walked in ahead of him. It was as if he didn't want Badger showing him up. Laughing, I stroked his neck, rubbed his shoulder and I could almost hear him telling me that he was so brave.
Further up we found another nice side creek off to our right that we went down to play in. Again, once Commotion could see that Badger was going to cross it, he'd almost race him to do it first. He didn't leap or get pushy at all, just a change of attitude. It was awful cute. Now and then he'd do little twinkle toe tip-toeing across the creek, but no giant leaps. "Good boy".
Man it was hot. Another mile or so ahead, I carefully took off my sweatshirt and tied it to the back of my saddle. Commotion didn't flinch even a tiny bit. In my head I thanked Jaime for already teaching him this sort of thing. Stopping in the shade under some tall pine trees for a little rest stop. I got off on the off side (the right side), walked around him, running my hand down his side and around his rump and got back on from the off side. He didn't care. Thank you again, Jaime.
It was time to turn around now, so we retraced our route. Walking toward us was a handsome couple with three beautiful golden retrievers. The youngest, barely out of puppyhood, had never seen a horse before. He barked and barked and bounced around the trail running toward us and back to his people. Commotion did not tense, just watched him with a look of wonder. No doubt wondering what all the fuss was about.
Back at the big crossing again, there was no hesitation at all. We walked right on in ahead of Badger, stopping in the middle for a nice long cool drink. Did I say how hot it was? High nineties at high altitude, man it was hot.
Commotion felt like he was just in such a good mood, striding out, looking around and enjoying the beauty of the canyon, the sun on our backs. Half way back to the trailhead, we saw a mountain biker approaching us.
"Hello!" The biker knew enough to announce herself to the horse, since a mountain biker can look about like a mountain lion if a horse hasn't seen it before.
She kept pedaling toward us, lost in her workout.
Commotion STOPPED dead in his tracks. "Snort"
I asked her if she could hold up a minute.
"Oh! Of course! I'm so sorry!" What a nice girl.
I told her that he'd never seen a bike before and asked her to just wait still for a minute while he processed this. About 30 seconds later we calmly walked right on by her, no prancing.
Thankfully, there were no sheep in this area today, but at that same spot where he'd spooked at earlier, he spooked again. It was just a spook in place, no bolt, no spin, just a planting of his feet and a snort, but then it was nothing after all.
He did so well today. Back in his pasture, with his tail way high and his ears up and nostrils flared, he trotted a huge trot in a big circle around the pasture, showing off all of that good Arabian breeding, he was so pleased with himself and was about bursting with happiness.